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First U.S. Nuclear Reactor Built from Scratch in 30 Years Goes Online in Georgia

First U.S. Nuclear Reactor Built from Scratch in 30 Years Goes Online in Georgia

Unit 4 of the Vogtle Plant is expected to go into service during the late fourth quarter 2023 or the first quarter of 2024.

Citizens in Georgia, Alabama, and Florida are now benefiting from a substantial new addition to the region’s electrical power grid.

Southern U.S. utility company Georgia Power said Monday it started commercial operations at the new unit of a nuclear power plant, the first such facility to come online in the country in more than 30 years.

“Georgia Power declared today that Plant Vogtle Unit 3 has entered commercial operation and is now serving customers and the state of Georgia,” the company stated. “The new unit represents a long-term investment in the state’s clean energy future and will provide reliable, emissions-free energy to customers for decades to come.”

The Energy Department expects only incremental gains in nuclear power capacity, with the share increasing only 1% to 20% of the total grid’s electricity by next year. But with the addition of Vogtle, total nuclear capacity is expected to expand by 2% over the next six months, compared with the second half of 2022.

Higher costs and construction delays have been a drag on an industry that is trying to take advantage of being an alternative to fossil fuels that is actually energy-efficient…and not dependent on weather or shipments of rare earth elements from China.

…[I]nterest in nuclear energy has been increasing significantly in recent years as the sense of urgency in responding to climate change has pushed demand for clean energy. Nuclear energy contributed 47% of America’s carbon-free electricity in 2022, according to the DOE, and has contributed about 20% of the nation’s overall energy since the 1990s.

Unit 4 of the Vogtle Plant is expected to go into service during the late fourth quarter 2023 or the first quarter of 2024, Georgia Power said on Monday. Georgia Power owns 45.7% of the Vogtle Power Plant, the Oglethorpe Power Corporation owns 30%, the Municipal Electric Authority of Georgia owns 22.7%. and Dalton Utilities owns 1.6%.

Of course, nothing in life is free.

In Georgia, almost every electric customer will pay for Vogtle. Georgia Power currently owns 45.7% of the reactors. Smaller shares are owned by Oglethorpe Power Corp., which provides electricity to member-owned cooperatives, the Municipal Electric Authority of Georgia and the city of Dalton. Oglethorpe and MEAG plan to sell power to cooperatives and municipal utilities across Georgia, as well in Jacksonville, Florida, and parts of Alabama and the Florida Panhandle.

Georgia Power’s 2.7 million customers are already paying part of the financing cost and elected public service commissioners have approved a monthly rate increase of $3.78 a month for residential customers as soon as the third unit begins generating power. That could hit bills in August, two months after residential customers saw a $16-a-month increase to pay for higher fuel costs.

However, this is the first good news related to the American energy grid I have seen in a long time.


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This is good news

Wait? Is that Biden I hear telling the EPA to shut it down?

We all use electricity and we need the reliability.

BigRosieGreenbaum | August 2, 2023 at 8:05 pm

We should have been doing this all along instead of wasting time on those other “green energy” schemes. We really need to step up production.

Gee, math must be awfully hard. You simply can’t make the grid work with solar and wind unless you have nearly 100% reliable capacity as a backup. “Wall Street Silver” makes an excellent point in the post above–we should have 100 nuke plants under construction. Moreover, we should have a standardized design and crank them out like the Navy’s nuclear submarines (back when we were building 3-7 submarines a year). I don’t particularly want to spend my golden years in the dark and cold diving into dumpsters looking for food–but that seems like what Brandon wants us to do. Go nukes!

Faster please. And agree on a standard design.

    MattMusson in reply to gibbie. | August 3, 2023 at 9:20 am

    France is a leader in having the same building company building the same design over and over. In the USA we almost always hire the biggest and best politically connected local builder to build the nuke plants. There is no learning curve and no economies of scale. And, it makes quality screw ups much more likely.

This is the way.

The future is bright for small modular nuclear reactors. They can be built for lower cost and in less time than conventional reactors. The Department of Energy seems to be supportive of the concept, surprisingly.

It’s a disgrace and a glaring policy failure that a paltry ~18% of U.S. electrical power generation is derived from nuclear power, thanks to the vile and stupid Dumb-o-crats’ decades-long dishonest and unfair vilification of nuclear energy. That figure should ideally be around 60% or greater.

    puhiawa in reply to guyjones. | August 2, 2023 at 9:20 pm

    One modular plant can serve about 50,000 people, inclusive of government, hospitals, restaurants and stores. So a single modular Rickover style nuclear reactor could serve about 90% of the population concentrations in America. Two units and we are up to about 95%. The remaining very large concentrations, cities and industrial complexes would require much larger plants but think of the difference that would make using the small reactors.
    For example Juneau, Nome, Ketchikan, and Fairbanks would never have to worry about winter fuel deliveries……for 40 years.

    Indeed. You can thank the Cuomo family for part of that. Governor Mario shut down a brand new completed Shoreham nuclear power plant and Governor Andrew shut down Indian Point with lots of years left. The latter also prevented fracking in NY and new natural gas transmission lines. It may turn out that the states that welcome nuclear will have a future with economic growth and ones like NY may not.

Hopefully the U.S. will establish a sustainable nuclear waste disposal or recycling policy before too many more plants are built.

    danvillemom in reply to rungrandpa. | August 2, 2023 at 8:53 pm

    Yucca Mountain was the site before Harry Reid had it shutdown

      Ironclaw in reply to danvillemom. | August 2, 2023 at 9:05 pm

      I’m pretty sure that pedophile is dead, open it back up

      artichoke in reply to danvillemom. | August 3, 2023 at 1:17 am

      We shouldn’t be storing spent nuclear fuel rods as we do, but reprocessing them in breeder reactors. Complete the nuclear fuel cycle! Then after they generate power in a breeder reactor, they can go back to a conventional plant. They can do this maybe 8 times before the rod is no longer usable.

      Then it’s far less radioactive, but it may need longterm storage.

    ThePrimordialOrderedPair in reply to rungrandpa. | August 2, 2023 at 9:02 pm

    I am for shipping one container of nuclear waste back with every deported illegal.

    broomhandle in reply to rungrandpa. | August 2, 2023 at 9:18 pm

    Not a bad facility to have but current storage is safe and reprocessing is a better option if we were to spend the money. Barely any uranium is used in a fuel rod and the actual waste is minimal in volume.

    Azathoth in reply to rungrandpa. | August 3, 2023 at 10:28 am

    It would probably be better to seek out valid scientific sources for such information rather than leftist political mouthpieces.

    At Scientific American, truth is that which serves the revolution.

ThePrimordialOrderedPair | August 2, 2023 at 9:01 pm

First U.S. Nuclear Reactor Built from Scratch in 30 Years Goes Online in Georgia

It’s really far, far worse than that. The Vogtle 3 and 4 plants started the application process in 2006. Outside of them, the last nuke plant built in the US started its application process in the early 1970s. That’s how terrible America has been with nuclear power. And the problem has been with changing regulations and added specifications that have made nuke plants take decades to build and could never come in less than twice what they were originally budgeted at. It’s pathetic and has been so for 50 YEARS!!! That’s half a century. Thanks to Jane Fonda and the China Syndrome for a lot of that.

Of course, we see exactly the same thing with going to the Moon.

healthguyfsu | August 2, 2023 at 9:13 pm

We definitely don’t need 100+ but this is a very good development.

    gonzotx in reply to healthguyfsu. | August 2, 2023 at 11:43 pm

    Yes we do

      healthguyfsu in reply to gonzotx. | August 3, 2023 at 7:33 pm

      LOL great counter-argument. First off, I am a big proponent of nuclear power and its usefulness. I have been ever since following a former solar guy who said nuclear power would be our future. His name is Michael Schellenberger and he has great sensibilities on the topic.

      That said, the best thing any country can do is diversify their energy infrastructure to not become too dependent on any one source.

      Further, we have 50 states and some don’t even need 1, certainly not an average of 2 per state. They also need to be strategically placed to mitigate risk as they do represent hostile targets and can be compromised in natural disasters to compound suffering (see Fukushima).

      We need more, but not over 100.

Close The Fed | August 2, 2023 at 9:23 pm

Cost overruns occur here because the utilities are guaranteed Cost PLUS.

So the higher the cost, the more the utility makes. Inverse incentive to economy.

    ThePrimordialOrderedPair in reply to Close The Fed. | August 2, 2023 at 9:31 pm

    Cost overruns occur because regulations are changed mid-construction … over and over and over.

    Why does it take 20 years to build a nuclear plant? And that was the fastest nuke plant built, too.

    Meanwhile, we’ve had nuclear generators on friggin warships and submarines for decades, operating fine without any incidents, at all. On warships, that are mobile and have to deal with violent waters and enemies. But we can’t even get anyone to apply to build a nuke plant in America .. and if they do it will be decades before they can turn the thing on.

    And the leftist dirtbags can’t even pause from pushing companies to build more windmills to chop up eagles and all sorts of birds, or solar to burn them to a crisp, or off-shore windmills to kill all the whales. But these same leftists killed the whole loggin industry over an owl that no one knows or gives a crap about, and they killed California farming over a smelt that people give even less of a sh*t about.

    For the Western left, it’s always about the nihilism. Just destroy things and make life unlivable. The left wants everyone to be as miserable as they are.

Good- build 10 more and prepare for the national divorce.

I hold an MS Degree in Nuclear Engineering.

I do not know what it means when someone says, the nuclear pile is built ‘from scratch’.

Nuclear fuel is sold by GE Nuclear Energy (former employer) and Siemens and a few other vendors across the globe. The fuel comes in ‘assemblies’, approximately 10″ square and maybe 15 feet long, that are slid into the nuclear pile, in a very specific and researched way. The assemblies are constructed of nuclear fuel (U-235) and carbon, with a few slots for control rods. There is nothing ‘from scratch’ about them. The power profile in any power plant is supposed to be ‘flat’ in the sense that there is no location in the power plant that is particularly hotter than any other part.

As for some of the other comments here, they are mostly correct. If the ‘green’ energy aficionados were serious about non-CO2 producing electricity generating plants, there would be over 100 nuclear power plant ground-breaking ceremonies every year, with governors showing up with a shovel to overturn the first bit of dirt. The NRC would be streamlining regulations, the legislatures would provide immunity against green lawsuits that inhibit construction, and the government would provide loan guarantees to ensure the plant could be financed to its completion.

But none of this is happening.

The surest way to recognize that the global warming scam is a hoax is to recognize that those complaining the most will not accept or acknowledge that nuclear energy is the solution to their complaints.


    artichoke in reply to not_a_lawyer. | August 3, 2023 at 1:21 am

    I think the article meant that the rest of the plant, that the “assembly” would slide into, was built from scratch.

      henrybowman in reply to artichoke. | August 3, 2023 at 9:47 pm

      Maybe better clarification would come from asking the original article’s author what it means NOT to build a nuke “from scratch?” Does it mean you start by attending a lot of garage sales in Chernobyl and Fukushima?

Maybe we’ll get lucky and some of those eco-retards will glue themselves to the reactor chamber. No worries, it’ll get hot enough to melt … everything

This thing is a bloated albatross but thank goodness it’s finally online.

The joke goes something like this – An American and Frenchman are talking about the differences between nuclear use in both countries and Frenchman sums them up by saying – We French have one type of nuclear reactor and 50 types of cheese while you Americans have 50 types of reactor and one type of cheese.

Hard to be efficient if you don’t standardize, and build, enough reactors.

Technically speaking this air cooled nuclear facility is generating tons of greenhouse gas, water vapor.
Another style, like the Seabrook facility in New Hampshire that is water cooled, is generating thermal pollution.

    henrybowman in reply to Rolf. | August 3, 2023 at 9:49 pm

    But it has great bennies. If you’re one of the crew tapped to un-clog the intake filters, you can have lobster and crab feasts the whole next week.

I am a retired Electrical Engineer and lived in Georgia but now have moved to SC to be closer to my oldest son. My youngest son lives in the northern Atlanta suburbs, which my and my wife use to live in. The issues with the last nuclear plant delays and cost over runs were due to Environmental Lawyers and regulations that were always at the company to try to stop the build.

I worry about the electrical grid being kept up. I like natural gas for homes as I find it better for cooking and heat.